Perfecting Service Management

Issue #105

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Addressing the Realities of (Sales) CRM Implementations
By Craig Bailey

Several years ago we published a white paper on the topic of Avoiding The Common Pitfalls of CRM. In fact, we suggest that this whitepaper is required reading to ensure success of your CRM program and is a prerequisite to what is provided here.

Since a number of years have passed, we decided it was again time to address this critical topic. We will build on what was previously shared and provide additional insights resulting from our continued efforts leading CRM implementations.

This topic will be covered in the following segments:

  • Service vs. Sales Implementations
  • Sales CRM Value Statements
  • Importance of Senior Executive Sponsorship
  • Proven Technology – Really?
  • Key (Controllable) Items Impacting Adoption
  • Proficiency After 2 days of Training?

Service vs. Sales Implementations

We have seen a wide chasm of differences between implementing CRM solutions for Sales versus Service. In a nutshell, the service team is typically very specific about requirements based upon well defined business processes. And, the UAT (user acceptance test) phase is quite challenging as you clearly demonstrate that requirements have been met and the system is performing exactly as specified. The good news is, however, once the service team is live on the system THEY ARE LIVE. And, 100% adoption is achieved on day 1! That is, they must use the system to perform their job. There is no alternative.

By contrast, sales organizations are "typically" less oriented towards rigid process. A sales strategy or plan may be in place, but it is only in effect for the current quarter or year. That is, things are fluid, as they must be to enable the business to meet the ever-changing needs of the market. This is challenge #1. The key to overcoming this is to be flexible and prepared to adapt to change. To accommodate this, you will want to build time in your plan. This is merely an exercise of good project/scope management. Enough said on this…

The more critical challenge is dealing with the realities of CRM from the perspective of the Sales Rep. This is a more complex exercise of organizational change management.

Often, companies embark on their CRM initiative having been sold on the benefits to the enterprise. However, when it comes down to it, if you do not have buy-in from the Sales Reps and/or strong leadership to drive adoption, you will not achieve the anticipated return on investment. And, you will find that several months after implementation, you don't even have 80% adoption of your Sales CRM solution. Senior management will ask the key question: "Why are we doing this?"

Why is this so? Let's explore the realities of CRM from the Sales Rep's perspective. To do so, we provide key comments heard from Sales Reps (typically behind closed doors or on a one-on-one basis), though occasionally a more vocal Sales Rep will share this feedback openly. The typical comments are:

  • "Big brother can watch me. Management has insight into what I am doing."
  • "The CRM system reduces my flexibility"
  • "I am forced to identify opportunities earlier"
  • "The headquarters office has insight into my prospects. I'm essentially turning my contact list over to the company"
  • In response to providing the CRM application on a handheld device (e.g., Palm Treo) the question is asked: "Does this have GPS so that my whereabouts can be tracked?"

If the above is not addressed "head on" Sales Management will experience continued frustration with incompleteness and tardiness of submission of information (forecasts, activities, etc.). And, there will be a never ending list of "if you fix this we'll be able to use the system." In summary - lack of adoption.

To address the above requires:

  • Clearly demonstrating value to the Sales Representatives
  • Strong Sales leadership (line management to executive) to drive adoption
  • Recognizing that this is not only about the Sales Rep; rather CRM is an enterprise solution that results in organizational improvements in efficiencies and effectiveness
  • Clearly defining use parameters and expectations (e.g., forecasts are only accepted if they are submitted via the CRM system)
  • Leveraging reporting to inspect and reward use, where reps are rewarded based upon performance to the Sales Plan and measurement can only occur via CRM, based upon entry of Sales Plan activities
  • Reinforcing the fact that the CRM solution (process and system) is never done, but rather it will continuously improve based upon feedback from the Sales team as well as changes in the business and market-place.

In our next edition we will cover the topic of demonstrating the value of CRM to your Sales team and the rest of the organization.

In closing, if you are embarking on a CRM initiative, or are in the middle of a CRM program that doesn't seem to have the traction you'd like to see, give us a call. We'd be happy to assist you in framing up your initial project for success as well as provide objective insight on your existing initiative to ensure that you achieve the anticipated ROI.

Finally, if you are looking for a CRM implementation primer, consider the following book: CRM Automation by Barton J. Goldenberg.


+ Addressing the Realities of (Sales) CRM Implementations
+ Recommended Reading

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Recommended Reading
To complement our series on Addressing the Realities of (Sales) CRM Implementations, we recommend CRM Magazine article Out of the Database and Into Business Processes by Chris Holmes. Mr. Holmes similarly stresses the importance of user adoption for a successful CRM implementation, and offers some ideas about data visualization to help users see more benefit to CRM use.

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